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Nathicharami review: An amateurish crime drama on the heavy price one needs to pay for the American dream

The film, largely shot like a television soap, is directed by Nagu Gavara and stars Poonam Kaur, Arvind Krishna in the lead

1.5rating
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 05.35 PM, Apr 14, 2022

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Nathicharami review: An amateurish crime drama on the heavy price one needs to pay for the American dream
Nathicharami

Story:

An investigative journalist Geetha Narayanan is keen to uncover the backstory of Srilatha, a woman jailed for allegedly murdering a financier Ramakrishna. Geetha seeks the help of an activist Rani to meet Srilatha and dig deep into her motive. Srilatha is initially reluctant to disclose her past but with the persistence of Rani and Geetha, she bites the bullet. Many years ago, Srilatha and Prabhakar were a happy couple leading a comfortable middle-class life. When the Y2K crisis in the US creates many employment opportunities for Indians, Srilatha pushes her husband to aim for a life there. She later falls into a debt trap while trying to further the career prospects of her better half. Where does this ultimately lead her to?

Review:

Nathicharami may not be a great film but it is a timely reminder of a chapter that brought a significant change in the lives of many Telugu people - the Y2K crisis and the birth of the glorious American dream. How far can one go to lead a rosy life in the US? The film revolves around a homemaker, Srilatha, whose life changes beyond repair while trying to bolster the career prospects of her husband and his chances to head to the US. The anxiety created by her near and dear about heading to the US gets to her and she pushes her husband to his limits to chase a career in an alien country. At what cost though? The premise is interesting but the inherent conservatism in the treatment, amateurish filmmaking play spoilsport.

The film keeps us hooked initially as the director Nagu Gavara establishes that there's more to this case than meets the eye. Nagu Gavara appears to be a better writer because the purpose behind most of his scenes is quite clear and the writing remains focused. Yet, the execution is so unimaginative and dull that it never holds your interest. Another problem with Nathicharami is its reinforcement of the age-old patriarchal belief that a woman is not safe when she's not in the company of her husband. A creepy dhobi guy ogles at Srilatha without her knowledge and every second man tries to take advantage of her in the absence of her husband.

The drama works better when Srilatha turns a victim to societal perception (about herself) and drags herself into a bottomless pit, all in the pursuit of a distant dream. It's even odd that she makes her husband stay at a hotel in the city while convincing the world that he's left for the US. The tension in the film definitely comes alive during these segments, more so after the entry of the financier Ramakrishna, who exploits Srilatha's vulnerabilities. There's a good pre-climactic twist that helps us empathise with Srilatha. Nathicharami is ultimately about the promise the couple makes to stand by each other through their thick and thin and it ends on a poignant note.

Poonam Kaur does a neat job in her portrayal of an over-anxious homemaker though Arvind Krishna's stiff body language and the absence of good screen presence doesn't help. Sandesh Buri is an apt choice to play the creep who's after the life of Srilatha. The other supporting actors Jayasri Rachakonda, Kavitha, Madhavi, Krishna, and Sathanna are strictly okay. The old-school background is a major deterrent to the storytelling. The male gaze in the writing and the execution is very apparent, especially with the characterisation of female characters, be it the activist, journalist or the homemaker.

Verdict:

It's not always enough to take up a good theme for a film, what's more crucial is the authenticity in the backdrop and the conviction in the storytelling. Despite touching upon an issue that not many filmmakers have opened up to, Nagu Gavara's Nathicharami is only a lost opportunity. Poonam Kaur's earnest performance may help but it isn't powerful enough to salvage a mediocre outing.

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